Love's Claim

1Cor. 13:7.---' Love believeth all things.'

Those who know the world, or have had large dealings with men, are constantly reminding us that it is not wise to give our confidence too unreservedly to anyone. Indeed, it will be strange if, to all of us, experiences have not come which have led to a dismal despair concerning human nature.

At the same time, all of us surely have experience which gives the lie to this dreary view of human nature---the experience of friendship or of love. For, once a man loves, he believes in him whom he loves. Love idealizes; and love trusts; and, even when dark facts are known about the person loved, love hopes for a day in which the loved one will be all that is dreamed for him.

We should always be sorry for censorious and suspicious people. For it must needs be that their conditions, or their experience, have been mournful. They may have been born with a querulously suspecting mind. Or they may have trusted and been bitterly disappointed; and in the haste of their disappointment have said, "all men are a lie." Or they may themselves be liars, in that fearful sense of being a carefully-concocted, long-continued heart-sham, and judge all men by themselves. But, whatever of these may be their experience, it certainly can be said that they do not know human love and human friendship; for no noble friend can be suspicious and censorious long. Love known strongly by a man almost always affects his attitude taken to other men. It leads one to believe [as we ought to believe] that men are better than their deeds; or, at least, that even if in this and that particular they be untrustworthy, they are splendid in possibility. Even in the face of disaster, Love, as a fact in the experience of all of us, believeth all things.

Let us try to carry this idea into the highest of all spheres. And in this way. In the central doctrine of Christianity we have the supreme illustration of the fact that love believeth all things; and there is, therefore, a supreme call upon our honor not to betray the trust of the love of God.

The heart of Christianity is found in the Cross of Christ. The glad tidings which we have to proclaim is the redemption of men through the Cross of Christ. The great and amazing fact which we have to preach is that God sent His Son Jesus---Himself in human form---to be born and to grow, sinless, to be lonely and weary and tempted, to be betrayed, to be buffeted upon the cheek by an impious hand, to be purple-robed and thorn-crowned, to be in solitary agony in a garden and to die, that men, beholding Love in pain unto death, might be saved and be like Jesus. That is the essential of Christianity.

But we see that that view has certain implications. It implies that men are worth saving. God does not go all the length of a dead Christ, for a purpose which is not worth while. It also implies that men can be saved. God is not, if we may use the word, a visionary. He does not do that which cannot have its effect. Therefore, in sending Jesus to save men, He teaches us that men may be made like Jesus.

But, if men can be made like Jesus, surely this is involved---that men can be attracted by goodness when it is seen. That, again, implies that men, here and now, have a certain desire for goodness. Man, that is to say, aspires. And his aspirations may be realized, or the Divine project is doomed to failure from the beginning. But we know, from painful experience, the ineffectiveness of unaided aspiration. So, with the aspiring, there must be also a faculty of laying hold upon strength from without, which is the faculty of faith. Without aspiration and without faith on our part, the Divine purpose for us in the Cross of Christ could not be realized. We may say then that the fact of the Cross implies a belief in us as able to aspire and to trust. In this way as in others, the Cross restores our self-respect. It displays a Divine estimate of us as nobler than we dared to think, and as possessing possibilities grander than once we dared to dream. The Love that is God believes in us.

But the chief importance of these implications of our beliefs lies in the application of them. Our friends believe in us. That we know. But also God believes in us. That is involved in our Christian faith. Given these two facts, a mighty inspiration is granted to us, and with it a clear call to honor.

But, the more, is the inspiration of the God-belief in us. It is very wonderful. We are sick of ourselves. Well, that is not surprising. Lusts, thoughtlessness, selfishness, compromisings of principle surprise us. We have settled down into a kind of average morality. There is nothing very squalid in it; but all the glow of a lofty idealism is dead. We think that the heights are not for us. We are sunk in a kind of contented hopelessness. Against all that half-hearted view of life, let us set the death of Christ. We say we are not worth it. That is not the point. He thought we were. We are despairing of soul for ourselves. How can we despair? It is almost the last injury to Jesus. Christ thought us good enough to die for. God grant us to recognize ourselves worth the death of Christ.

Let us also remember the call to honor that there is in this love-believing. Here stand these women, these children, and above all, this Lord. Are we to betray their trust? The whole manhood of us rises against that possibility. Rather, we shall say, 'Thou believest in me enough to die for me; and I am man enough to fight against Thine enemies.' And when that is our true speech, He who can never know defeat makes it His business to see that we win.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha